Guest: Rebecca Williams
Presenter: Patrick Reyes
Guest Bio: Rebecca holds a Master of Nutrition and Dietetics and Bachelor of Science (Physiology) from the University of Sydney and has experience working as an Accredited Practising Dietitian across various nutrition practice areas including research, public health and industry.
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, we are joined by Rebecca Williams, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutrition Manager of the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council here to discuss the top reasons why we should reconsider our daily diet and include legumes for its numerous health benefits. Rebecca shares her thoughts on the recent research that shows 65% of Australians aren’t eating the recommended amount of legumes needed for good health. Among the reasons why should eat legumes regularly are because they are packed with plant based protein, they contain vitamins and minerals, a great source of fibre, help us with weight management, and delicious as well.
Health Professional Radio – Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council
Patrick Reyes: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio, my name is Patrick Reyes and on today’s show we have Rebecca Williams. She is the Nutrition Manager at the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council and she holds a masters in nutrition and dietetics and the Bachelor of Science in physiology from the University of Sydney. Welcome to the show Rebecca.
Rebecca Williams: Thank you very much for having me.
P: Well you’re very welcome. Now I did give you a little short introduction but can you give us a little bit more about yourself?
R: Sure, so I’m as you said I’m the Nutrition Manager at Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council and I’m a dietician and I’m really passionate about the role that nutrition can play in the prevention and management of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer…chronic diseases, they have a huge impact on our society and they’re responsible for the death of 38 million people each year. As for nutrition my work also looks at things such as obesity which is a huge issue and we know that around… 2050 half a billion people worldwide are likely to obese and I really think that if there was ever a time for positive change that time is now and many people are unaware of the extent which what you eat influences your health and wellbeing both in the short and long term. So at GLNC my role involves looking at the evidence based research and we’re on about promoting the nutrition and health benefits of grains and legumes as part of a balanced diet. Many people don’t realize that grains particularly whole grains and legumes contribute a unique set of nutrients that promotes health and protect against chronic diseases, they can also assist with weight management. And so for this reason we advocate that Australians need to take a few or at least half of their grain foods from whole grain sources such as brown rice and whole grain bread and this is also being enjoying legumes such as beans, lentils, chickpeas at least 2 – 3 times a week.
P: Alright, so legumes which is the topic for today. What are they in specific and how are they different from say pulses?
R: So legumes are the overarching family that pulses sit under. So they are a family of plants whose fruit or seed is enclosed in a pod. And pulses sit under this umbrella of legumes and they are… solely for the use of their dry seeds and so pulses or legumes include things like chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans and they can be found in a variety of different colors, sizes and different food formats such as in the supermarket you might see chickpeas flour, there’s humus which is also chickpeas and you can also buy them on dried form.
P: So in a recent research I believe it was only 65% of Australians aren’t getting the recommended amount of legumes. So what are some reasons why people should start adding legumes to their diet?
R: That’s a really great question and it’s a big problem because legume consumption in Australia is very low and a recent study by GLNC showed that, you’re right, 65% of Australians aren’t eating the recommended amount of legumes for good health and there are so many reasons that we should be eating them. So to start with, legumes are packed with nutrients that are important for good health, so they contain things like iron which helps to fight fatigue, folate for good immune function, magnesium for strong bones and teeth, they’re also a great source of dietary fiber which is really vital for our digestive health and by simply enjoying legumes more often Australians could increase their intake of these essential nutrients which may in turn have a favorable effect on health and reduce our risk of chronic disease and that’s the other really key reason we should be enjoying them more often. So speaking specifically about chronic diseases, we know heart disease is the single leading cause of death in Australia and while this is the cause… of complex problems and there is no single solution, there is a growing body of evidence that pulses my help to reduce the risk of heart disease, so…analysis have shown that having around 100 – 200 grams of pulses per day can lower key risk factors such as heart disease, such as LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. Another really widespread chronic disease in Australia is diabetes and we know that 70% of type 2 diabetes cases may actually better be prevented or delayed by adapting a healthy lifestyle and scientific reviews show that people who eat legumes as part of a low GI diet or a high fiber diet actually have improved in markers that have blood glucose control. So really all Australians would benefit from incorporating legumes into their diets more often, there’s just so many reasons that Australians to start eating legumes.
P: And for our listeners that would like to start adding legumes to their diet, can you share with us a simple recipe using legumes?
R: Yeah, absolutely. So first of all I think it’s important that we recommend that you should be eating legumes 2 – 3 times per week at least and that long term health research shows that the more, the better. And so if you can incorporate legumes like 4 or more times per week that will even have a greater effect on health in just having it once and there’s so many easy ways to incorporate them into your diet. So an easy way maybe in your salad, so it’s a great way to boost the plant protein and the fiber content, so shredded …, 200 grams of cooked black lentils, a hundred and fifty grams of cooked chickpeas and 50 grams of… can be combined together and then mixing in an extra 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and half the juice of a lemon to create the dressing for the salad as well. They also make really great snack food so giving another example of a recipe just by…chickpeas with Cajun spices and olive oil and placing in the oven for 10 minutes provides a great snack that you can have during the day is another way to enjoy legumes.
P: Now when preparing legumes, are there any tips that you can give us or to the listeners?
R: So when preparing legumes particularly fried varieties it’s important to rinse them and soak them and the same goes to canned variety as well and this helps to reduce some of the flatulence associated compounds that may be in legumes. But with canned legumes it’s super easy, you rinse them and they’re pretty much ready to go straight away. By rinsing them the other great thing that it does in canned legumes is it just… so it’s an important step in preparing legumes.
P: Alright and for all our listeners, go ahead and give us a little short message.
R: So I think the take home message is that legumes are packed with essential nutrients that offer a multitude of health benefits and we know that Australians really don’t come close enough to eating the recommended amount. So all Australians should be aiming to enjoy a minimum of half a cup of legumes like 2 – 3 times per week as part of a balanced diet so take advantage of these nutrition and health benefits.
P: Alright and how can people find out more information or find recipes about legumes?
R: Absolutely. So on our website, so the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council we have a whole range of recipes, is it also the International Year of the Pulses and the official IYP or international Year of Pulses website contains a range of recipes from around the world which your listeners can use to try pulses or legumes from different cultures and try different cooking techniques.
P: Now for our last question, what is the biggest misconception you’ve heard about legumes from many people?
R: So I think the common misconception with legumes is that they are the…gas, so research actually indicates that less people experience gas after eating legumes than you may think and in those who do experience gas this actually refers to normal within a few weeks of eating legumes regularly. And in fact gas isn’t always a bad thing, it is a sign that you’re feeding the good bugs in your bowel which ferments particular types of fibers and the research shows that this has a beneficial effect on health. However they said… or rinsing legumes prior to eating them can help to reduce the level of flatulence producing compound as well.
P: Awesome. Alright well it’s been a pleasure talking to you Rebecca.
R: Thank you very much.
P: Thank you. Now you’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, again I’m your host Patrick Reyes and we’ve been in studio with Rebecca Williams, the Nutrition Manager at the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council. As we talked about a few reasons why you should be eating legumes more often. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.